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Retail Trend Shows Signs of Easing

Retail Trade Survey: February 2000

Retail Trend Shows Signs of Easing

Statistics New Zealand's retail trade figures for February 2000 are a further indication of an easing in the trend for retail sales. Sales growth has slowed to 2.3 per cent since September following growth of 3.4 per cent between March and August.

With seasonal variations and the extra day due to the leap year removed, sales in February increased by 0.8 percent. Sales levels appear to be settling back to usual patterns after the 'millennium effect' caused some volatility in December and January. Food retailing, in particular, was affected as consumers stocked up in preparation for Y2K computer-related problems and millennium celebrations, and then reduced spending in January.

Seven of the 15 storetypes contributed to the increase this month with the largest contribution from motor vehicle services. Rising world crude oil prices which have been amplified by the depreciating New Zealand dollar are the reason for the large increase. The Trade Weighted Index has declined 3.8 percent since September 1999.

Fees received by school and university hostels boosted sales for accommodation providers this month. Despite this positive result the trend for the accommodation, hotel and liquor storetype continues to decline. Changes to the liquor laws in December which allowed supermarkets to sell beer have contributed strongly to the decline.

Dianne Macaskil

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